APA Clinical Practice Guideline Development

Clinical practice guidelines provide research-based recommendations for the treatment of particular disorders. They generally include assessments of the strength of the current scientific evidence for each recommendation.

APA has not previously developed clinical practice guidelines, but in 2010 initiated a process for producing such guidelines. (APA has previously produced professional practice guidelines which address psychological practice with particular populations or in particular areas without focusing on specific disorders or treatments.)

Updates and news about APA's progress in developing clinical practice guidelines are provided by the APA Science Directorate, the APA Practice Organization and APA's Monitor on Psychology.

Call for Comments

APA seeks comments from all interested individuals and groups — including psychologists, health care professionals, researchers, patients/clients and their families, APA governance members, and the general public — on the draft "Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Depression in Children, Adolescents, and Young, Middle-aged, and Older Adults."

The website containing the draft guideline document and comment portal opened on Aug. 23, 2018. It will remain open for comments until Oct. 23, 2018.

Comments will provide the panel that is developing the guideline with valuable input as it works to produce the final version. It is anticipated that the final version will be submitted to the Council of Representatives for approval as APA policy at its February 2019 meeting.

Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

"APA Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Adults" was approved as APA policy by the Council of Representatives on Feb. 24, 2017.

American Psychological Association, Guideline Development Panel for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults. (2017). Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in adults. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/offices/directorates/guidelines/ptsd.pdf

American Psychological Association, Guideline Development Panel for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults. (2017). Appendices: PTSD clinical practice guideline [Supplemental material]. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/appendices.pdf

Contact the clinical practice guidelines team for additional information.

Clinical Practice Guideline for the Behavioral Treatment of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents

 "Clinical Practice Guideline on Multicomponent Behavioral Treatment of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents: Current State of the Evidence and Research Needs" was approved as APA policy by the Council of Representatives on March 10, 2018. 

American Psychological Association, Guideline Development Panel for Obesity Treatment. (2018). Clinical practice guideline for multicomponent behavioral treatment of obesity and overweight in children and adolescents: Current state of the evidence and research needs. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/offices/directorates/guidelines/obesity-clinical-practice-guideline.pdf 

Contact the clinical practice guidelines team for additional information.

Placing Clinical Practice Guidelines in Context

Provision of high quality, effective care that reduces symptoms and helps the patient return to higher levels of functioning is a shared goal for patients and their families, practitioners, policy makers, and administrators. But knowing which information to trust and prioritize is not easy, and synthesizing available research and determining preferable care options can be daunting. Clinical practice guidelines are an essential tool to guide clinical decision-making and make it easier for patients to get the care they need.

Advisory Steering Committee for the Development of Clinical Practice Guidelines

The advisory steering committee, appointed by the APA Board of Directors, is overseeing the process of guidelines development.

In addition, the advisory steering committee is developing a manual of procedures to describe the process that APA is following for guidelines development.

Meeting agendas and summaries of the advisory steering committee are available online.

Members of the 2018 committee:
  • Chair: Bethany Teachman, PhD, University of Virginia
  • Jamile Ashmore, PhD, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Plano
  • Francisca Azocar, PhD, Optum
  • Anthony Chambers, PhD, The Family Institute at Northwestern University
  • Claire Collie, PhD, Veterans Affairs Central Office
  • Kimberly Hepner, PhD, RAND Corporation
  • J. Christopher Muran, PhD, Adelphi University
  • Jacqueline Persons, PhD, Oakland Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center
  • Glenn Smith, PhD, University of Florida
  • Gregory Aarons, PhD, University of California, San Diego (continuing implementation science expert)
Call for Nominations:

The advisory steering committee will periodically seek nominations of individuals to serve on guideline development panels. Details will be provided for any calls for nominations as they become available.


Note: APA has adopted new terminology aimed at bringing its labeling of guidelines in accord with that of other health care organizations. The term "clinical treatment guidelines" has been replaced by "clinical practice guidelines." Further, the term "practice guidelines" has been replaced by "professional practice guidelines." Clinical practice guidelines are focused on specific disorders and interventions, while professional practice guidelines are mainly concerned with how practice is conducted with particular populations or in particular settings.